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Cardiologists Concerned Regarding Inappropriate Radiation Exposure

Update Date: Jan 10, 2014 02:58 PM EST

Cardiologists are being urged to reduce radiations from cardiology procedures that equals more than 50 chest X-rays per person each year.

For the first time, cardiologists in a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) position paper outlined doses and risks of common cardiology examinations.

“Cardiologists today, are the true contemporary radiologists. Cardiology accounts for 40% of patient radiology exposure and equals more than 50 chest X-rays per person per year,” said Lead author, Dr Eugenio Picano in a press release.

“Unfortunately, radiation risks are not widely known to all cardiologists and patients and this creates a potential for unwanted damage that will appear as cancers, decades down the line. We need the entire cardiology community to be proactive in minimising the radiological friendly fire in our imaging labs,” he added.

Common cardiology examinations like Computed tomography (CT), percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), cardiac electrophysiology and nuclear cardiology deliver exposure that is equivalent to 750 chest X-rays. On a regular basis, these are performed daily in cardiology in- and out-patient departments. Strikingly, the amount is more than one procedure per admission.

“Even in the best centres, and even when the income of doctors is not related to number of examinations performed, 30 to 50% of examinations are totally or partially inappropriate according to specialty recommendations. When examinations are appropriate, the dose is often not systematically audited and therefore not optimised, with values which are 2 to 10 times higher than the reference, expected dose,” said Dr Picano.

The research aims to reduce the deadly rate of these examinations and subsequently reduce the excessive dose.

“In these hard economic times, 50% of the costly and risky advanced imaging examinations we do are for inappropriate indications. Politicians’ top priority should be to audit and cut down on useless and dangerous examinations,” he added in the press release.

The paper is published in the European Heart Journal.

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